At the 8th Annual Boston Fundraiser, we were lucky enough to have Tomas Sis, a 15-year-old boy from Guatemala, join us and tell us about how School the World changed his life. He traveled such a long way to share his story and from looking around the room, I could tell that he truly touched so many people.
Tomas told us that before School the World, his community, Panimache, consisted of houses made of cornstalks and cardboard with no fresh drinking water or electricity, and definitely no school. There was no place for the children to play or learn within the community. Families were malnourished and suffering. Tomas’ family of nine would eat a tortilla with salt or some beans for a whole meal. Unfortunately, they did not have enough food to go around and he lost two younger sisters to malnutrition. Clearly this community could not endure any more suffering.
Building a school provided a space for children to learn and play together. Having a new school in the community meant that the government would give Panimache electricity. Tomas recalled the first time his family had light and how incredible that feeling was. They also received pre-made houses to replace their makeshift housing.
Not only did School the World manage to improve Panimache, they also helped Tomas personally. Once he finished sixth grade, his family could not afford to keep him in school anymore. However, in its first year of giving scholarships to children in Guatemala, School the World chose Tomas. Tomas said that when he found out that he would be able to go back to school, he was speechless. He said, “Cuando nos dieron la noticia que School the World me apoyaría para poder continuar con mis estudios, no lo podíamos creer, todos muy emocionados y sin palabras, empezamos con el proceso de inscripción con el apoyo de mis padres.” Unlike children in America who take school for granted, Tomas absolutely loves it. He hopes to study computers and technology in the future.
Tomas told us, “Me gustaría ser un ejemplo para mi comunidad, ya que soy el primero que está estudiando básico, quiero mostrarles que a través del estudio podemos cambiar nuestras vidas, yo sé que si continuo estudiando podre apoyar a mis padres en su vejez, y dar una mejor vida a mi futura esposa e hijos.” Tomas was the first person in his community to study at the basic level and he hopes to set a good example for others to follow in his footsteps because he knows that learning can change his life and the lives of those around him. He wants to be able to support his parents and give his future wife and children a better life.